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Deadbeat Parents

Deadbeat parent. What is that exactly? It’s a term used frequently when people discuss an ex-spouse who doesn’t pay any money to help support the needs of the child. The exact definition of a deadbeat parent is a man or woman who has fathered or mothered a child and fails to pay child support that’s been ordered by a court of law.

For divorcees, you think that you have gone to court, the papers have been signed, and the divorce is final. The hard part is over right? And for any couple that had a child out of wedlock, you think that when you separate, the parental figure that has the means to support their child will rise to the occasion. Right? Wrong! As of December 2013, just over half (51%) of non-custodial parents under court order in Rhode Island were making child support payments on time and in full.

So your significant other is being a deadbeat and not making the payments the court has ordered them to make. Now what?

In Rhode Island, non-custodial parents have a legal requirement to pay their child support on a regular basis. When payments are not made, the non-custodial parent is subject to strict measures that follow the child support laws of Rhode Island and the federal government.

What are the repercussions for not making payments? According to the Rhode Island Child Support Enforcement website, there are a list of things that can happen:

• Suspending the licenses of the non-custodial parent including their driver’s license along with occupational, business or professional licenses

• Suspension of vehicle registrations on their cars, trucks, airplanes and boats
• Interception of any insurance proceeds
• Interception of federal and state tax refunds
• Interception of any lottery winnings
• Garnishments (income withholding from paychecks)
• Denial of a passport application
• Restraining order
• State criminal prosecution
• Reporting payments in arrears to credit bureaus
• Lien placement on real estate and personal property
• Contempt of court charge that may involve jail time

Unfortunately for Rhode Islanders, according to Rhode Island Kids Count, in FFY 2012, Rhode Island had the lowest rate of court orders established for child support in New England. With the national average for cases with child support orders established being 82%, Rhode Island comes in at an abysmal 67%.

In total, since the inception of the program in 1974, Rhode Islanders owe more than $238 million in overdue, court-ordered child support.

How can this problem be fixed? Unfortunately, budget cuts have led to some growing pains for the child support system in Rhode Island. But there is some relief on the way. New tools are being instituted that will help monitor and track those deadbeat parents who make any attempts to thwart the system. Tools such as cell phone tracking and quarterly state police sweeps will aid in enforcing overdue payments.